The Best Way to Breathe
Copyright 2006 Marc David
Let me tell you that breathing plays an important part in exercise and relaxation. When your respiratory muscles are strong, you are capable of taking in more oxygen per breath. As a result, you can get greater amount of oxygen which your body needs for the production of energy but also recovery.
For just those two reasons:
* more energy * greater recovery
You clearly can see how important breathing is and that it will make a difference in your training.
But that’s not all! Follow me here…
The stronger your respiratory muscles are, the more effective your cardiovascular endurance. Improving the strength of the muscles involved in breathing you can reduce the onset of fatigue and recover faster. In most cases, respiratory fatigue occurs before cardiovascular fatigue; thus, your breathing is directly related to your endurance as well as your lifting.
Obviously, how you breath during exercise is very important during the execution phase. New trainees should:
* exhale thru the sticking point * inhale during the less strenuous portion of the lift
[ Sticking Point is defined as the transition from the eccentric to the concentric contraction. Also know as the amortization phase. ]
And this is just the start!
If you pick up any article or go to most fitness sites and forums they will tell you that holding your breath under any circumstances is dangerous.
Now if you were to hold it for 8 seconds or more, that’s true. The internal pressure in the chest and abdomen increases when you hold your breath on exertion.
If it increases greatly, it can squeeze down on the blood vessels shutting down blood and oxygen to and from the heart. When this happens you can black out. This is rare and only on maximum exertion.
Okay, so that is dangerous, holding your breath during maximal exertions for long segments.
But can you hold your breath as an advanced trainee and actually increase the weight you lift?
In fact you can with a little technique called the Valsalva Maneuver. This involves expiring against a closed glottis, which when combined with contracting muscles of the abdomen and rib cage muscles, transforms your trunk into a stable and stronger support for some movements.
Often in advanced trainees, there are appropriate times in which you can hold your breath on the exertion and provide up to 20 percent greater force, stabilize the spine and prevent lower back injuries.
In fact, this little trick can transform your whole trunk, sometimes your whole body, into a stable unit against which your hips, arms and shoulders can move more effective.
Of course this Valsalva Maneuver assumes that you are:
* an advanced athlete * without cardiovascular problems; high blood pressure or heart problems * do not hold your breath for more than a few seconds
Inhaling and holding your breath comes naturally in many sports.
Using the Valsalva Maneuver is simple. You just:
1- Inhale during the less strenuous portion of the lift
2- Exhale after you have passed the sticking point
That’s pretty much it. Take for example a heavy set of squats.
Picture yourself doing a very heavy squat and you are coming up out of the down position very slowly. The amount of pressure being built up is quite great. To relieve some of the pressure you would exhale slightly thru pursed lips.
But don’t let all the air out!
Not until you have passed the sticking point or the most difficult portion of the exercise.
Clearly exhaling after the sticking point is important to relieve the built-up pressure.
My point is: The key is to be sure that you exhale after passing the sticking point, not before.
Proper breathing is essential in successfully executing strength movements, especially when handling heavy weights.